Read City on a Grid: How New York Became New York by Gerard Koeppel Free Online
Book Title: City on a Grid: How New York Became New York|
ISBN 13: 9780306822841
The author of the book: Gerard Koeppel
Edition: Da Capo Press
Date of issue: November 10th 2015
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 35.23 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.5
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You either love it or hate it, but nothing says New York like the street grid of Manhattan. Created in 1811 by a three-man commission featuring headstrong Founding Father Gouverneur Morris, the plan called for a dozen parallel avenues crossing at right angles with many dozens of parallel streets in an unbroken grid. Hills and valleys, streams and ponds, forests and swamps were invisible to the grid; so too were country villages, roads, farms, and estates and generations of property lines. All would disappear as the crosshatch fabric of the grid overspread the island: a heavy greatcoat on the land, the dense undergarment of the future city.
No other grid in Western civilization was so large and uniform as the one ordained in 1811. Not without reason. When the grid plan was announced, New York was just under two hundred years old, an overgrown town at the southern tip of Manhattan, a notorious jumble of streets laid at the whim of landowners. To bring order beyond the chaos-and good real estate to market-the street planning commission came up with a monolithic grid for the rest of the island. Mannahatta-the native "island of hills"-became a place of rectangles, in thousands of blocks on the flattened landscape, and many more thousands of right-angled buildings rising in vertical mimicry.
The Manhattan grid has been called "a disaster" of urban planning and "the most courageous act of prediction in Western civilization." However one feels about it, the most famous urban design of a living city defines its daily life. This is its story.
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Read information about the authorI write history, mostly New York related so far, mostly in books of my own and others', but also in anything from magazines and journals to historical signage in city parks. I started writing at Wesleyan, for the student paper and in a grueling non-fiction writing seminar with V.S. Naipaul. After college, I was the captain of a charter sailboat with a past, an awful law student, a licensed hack (out of a Greenwich Village taxi garage), and then, for many years, a radio reporter/writer/editor/producer, mostly with CBS News. In radio, I learned to write short and unlearned narrative. With each book of history, I'm trying to do the narrative thing better. I was born at an edge of the Manhattan street grid, in a hospital since replaced by a high-rise condo, raised on the suburban mainland, and for many decades have lived on my native island, mostly at edges of its dominant rectilinearity. I'm married and we have three grown but still health insurance covered children, who may someday cross paths with some of mine. Or not.
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